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Baseball Legend: Babe Ruth Biography

Updated on September 28, 2010

George Herman "Babe" Ruth

Born: February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland

Died: August 16, 1948 in New York, New York

Professional Baseball Player: 1914-1935

- Boston Red Sox : 1914-1919

- New York Yankees: 1920-1934

- Boston Braves: 1935

Babe Ruth's Nicknames:

"The Bambino"

"The Sultan of Swat"

"The Colossus of Clout"

"The Babe"


Babe Ruth: Family Background

Ruth was born to his father, George Sr. and his mother Kate. Babe and his sister, Mary, were the only children out of 8 to survive through infancy.  Throughout their childhood, Babe and Mary were left alone most of the time to take care of themselves while their parents were working at a tavern.

Babe Ruth: Education

Babe attended St. Mary’s Industrial School from age 7 until he began playing minor league baseball at the age of 19. Ruth’s parents eventually signed over custody of Babe to the missionaries at the school, as they were good influences and were responsible for introducing Babe to the game of baseball.

Babe Ruth: Married Life

In 1914 Babe, at the age of 19, married Helen Woodford. They had one daughter through adoption named Dorothy in 1921. Babe’s party lifestyle and infidelities contributed to their separation in 1925. Due to their Catholic religion the two did not divorce, but Helen died tragically in a house fire in 1929. By this time Ruth had been involved with actress and model Claire Hodgson, who he married later in 1929. Claire had one daughter through a previous marriage named Julia, who Babe later adopted. Claire was a taming influence on Babe as she helped improve his diet, made him cut down on his drinking and partying, and took control of their finances.

Babe Ruth: Personality

Babe had a rebellious but warm-hearted personality. When Babe was a child he skipped school, smoked, drank, and committed petty crimes. Often times, Ruth was reckless and profane. Some of these characteristics carried into his adulthood also; his passion for the game of baseball and his rebellious antics led to spats with managers, owners, umpires, and teammates. However, Ruth was a charismatic showman who fans adored and the media could not get enough of. Even though Ruth got into many heated battles with teammates, most teammates still liked him because he was so warm-hearted. Ruth often visited hospitals and orphanages and was very generous in providing for charities, especially for children, and was also generous with his time as he tried to sign all of the autographs that he could.

Babe Ruth: Social Life

As previously alluded to, Babe Ruth lived life to the fullest, as some of his off the field antics share similar legendary status as his accomplishments on the field. Babe was larger than life in everything he did from his eating, drinking, escapades with women, and his philanthropic acts with charities.

Babe Ruth in the early years
Babe Ruth in the early years
Babe Ruth in the latter stages of his career
Babe Ruth in the latter stages of his career

Babe Ruth: Physical Characteristics

Babe Ruth was listed at 6’2”, 215 pounds, but his weight fluctuated throughout his playing career and up until his death. At the beginning of his baseball career, Ruth had a tall and athletic build. However, throughout much of his playing career Ruth’s drinking, partying, and love of food, caused Ruth’s figure to balloon into one that is not prototypical of an athlete. After retirement from baseball, Ruth lost 40 pounds to fulfill the role of himself in the movie The Pride of the Yankees, which is acclaimed as one of the greatest baseball movies of all-time. In the latter years of Ruth's life, he suffered from a number of illnesses which caused him to lose substantial amounts of weight and caused him to look old for his age, especially at the time of his death. Ruth died at the age of 53 from throat cancer.

Babe Ruth: Baseball Career Highlights

Babe Ruth was a professional baseball player for 22 seasons and is heralded by many as the greatest baseball player of all-time. Often overlooked because of his hitting prowess, Ruth’s career began with the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher where he tallied up an astounding 94-46 career record with a 2.28 era. As for that hitting prowess, Ruth fascinated fans, as he was the first player in baseball history to hit 30, 40, 50, and 60 home runs in a season. "The Babe" ended his career with 714 homeruns, a total which was double that of the next closest person at the time of his retirement and still ranks him 3rd all-time to this day. In 1920, Ruth’s first season with the Yankees, Ruth hit 54 home runs; a staggering total considering no other player in history had ever hit over 25 at the time. Throughout most of his career, Ruth hit more home runs than entire teams did throughout the course of a season. Ruth led his teams to a total of 10 World Series appearances, winning 7 of them. Ruth was a clutch player who made baseball seem effortless. A good example of this was in the 1932 World Series when Ruth is said to have called his own shot for a home run  by pointing to the center field bleachers as he stepped to the plate--Ruth carried through by hitting a monster home run to center field. In 1936, Babe Ruth was one of the first five players ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York, and in 1999, Ruth was named the Associated Press’ “Athlete of the Century”.

Babe Ruth: The Influence

As stated earlier, Babe Ruth is still regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, as well as one of America’s most legendary historical figures. Ruth changed the way the game was played with his dazzling home runs and power which led to the “live ball” era in baseball. Ruth’s charisma and talent brought a new found popularity to the game of baseball that it needed after the Black Sox Scandal, which made fans question the integrity of the game of baseball. Fans of Ruth saw him as a larger than life figure. Ruth’s presence not only set attendance records for his teams, but for all of baseball making the sport America’s pastime. Ruth gained most of his notoriety when he joined the New York Yankees in 1920, becoming one of the pioneers for what is today the most successful franchise in professional sports history. Ruth's legend to this day is mostly derived from his life and career while with the Yankees. In 1923, Ruth hit the first-ever home run at the famous Yankee Stadium, which became known for all of time as "the house that Ruth built".

Babe Ruth: Naysayers/ Baseball Mythology

While Ruth’s feats are remarkable, some discredit Ruth’s accomplishments due to the fact that there were no African Americans in the Major League throughout his career, diminishing the level of competition that Ruth played against. As stated before, Ruth was not an ideal role model on many levels with his rebellious antics and profane speech; however these things also contributed to his mass appeal, especially among New Yorkers. Ruth was regarded as such a mythical figure to many, that players such as Roger Maris and Hank Aaron received numerous death threats upon approaching and breaking Ruth’s baseball records. Finally, when Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees for 100,000 in 1919 it set off what is known in baseball mythology as "the curse of the bambino", as the Red Sox did not win another World Series until 2004.

Babe Ruth: Author's Perspective

As a baseball fan, I view Ruth to be, at the very least, the most versatile baseball player of all-time. I realize Ruth played in a unique era of baseball, but to be an outstanding pitcher, along with his well-known accomplishments as a hitter sets Ruth in a league by himself. Imagine if Ruth had not been a pitcher for the first 6 seasons of his career. How many home runs could he have ended up with--probably a record that would have been unbreakable. I think it is difficult today to have an appropriate appreciation for his gaudy offensive statistics due to the fact many of his records have been eclipsed. However, if one is to compare his numbers to that of his competition of his time his numbers and accomplishments seem unfathomable. I think if Ruth would not have played in New York he may not have obtained his current legacy. Ruth’s rebellious ways fit in well with the mystique of New York and only helped to build his mythical and legendary status. I do not believe Ruth would have obtained similar legendary status if he were playing today because the present day media would be overly critical of his antics and they would overshadow his performance. Overall, I consider Ruth to have been a great man, with his philanthropy and his passion for what he did--not to mention, being one of the most historical figures in American history.

Comments

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    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 

      10 months ago from U.S, California

      Good article! ...One of my favorite baseball figures.

    • profile image

      James Trentadue 

      4 years ago from Madison, WI.

      The Babe is an American Icon. He is the epitome of baseball's next "generation" in his time.

      Here is the evolution of baseball as I see it with the player that I thought was the representation of that era, but Babe stands by himself as a mountain on a hilly plain. The one stat that impresses me the most is: In 1920 he hit more home runs by himself than the rest of the American league.:

      1. Cap Anson Pre Deadball, 1858-1888

      2. Ty Cobb Deadball, 1888-1920

      3. Babe Ruth hitters era, 1920-1948

      4. Jackie Robinson era, (1948 my favorite - goes until 1969)

      5. Curt Flood, expansion, "unionization", playoff, & my least favorite DH, 1969- 1994

      6. and finally Barry Bonds & the PED players or Why I quit watching the game I once loved. 1994- present

      Baseball seems to intersect with American history; at least with the Labor and the Civil Rights movements in history (as it how it plays out in our American culture) , "Doesn't it"?

      OH, how I used to love this game.

      This is my first day at Hubpage. Leaving this commentary so ambiguous was not my intention but to fill in the blanks would take a book ( or at least a large Hubpage.

      This might be the idea I was looking for.

      Thanks LakeshowT!

    • profile image

      pcms 

      5 years ago

      great

    • profile image

      dgsd 

      5 years ago

      dgsd gd

    • profile image

      raychael17 

      5 years ago

      i doing a project on him and he is da best

    • profile image

      Alexia 

      5 years ago

      Awesome

    • profile image

      rodger rabbit 

      6 years ago

      This page is so helpful. i would be no where without it! thanks so much! -Rodger

    • profile image

      shawn 

      6 years ago

      mi project is on babe and this is awesome

    • CoachKnox profile image

      CoachKnox 

      6 years ago from Right now, Louisville, KY

      nice read and I even learned a thing or 2! :) thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      dskal 

      6 years ago

      you helped me on my writing

    • 10aeinhorn profile image

      10aeinhorn 

      7 years ago from West Chester PA

      good stuff man, you know your babe ruth lol

      check out my new hub

      Alex Einhorn

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 

      8 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      This was a great and informative hub. I wish I could have got the see the Babe play. He is a legend and a great ball player.

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 

      8 years ago from New York, NY

      LakeShow.. . now that you bring that up I do remember it. . the 'curse' is one thing. . we all know that .. especially this time of the year .. but I forget that it stems from that fact. Anyway . .you know where the Babe is for the next few weeks! Again, great Hub.. .keep them coming!

    • LakeShow T profile imageAUTHOR

      LakeShow T 

      8 years ago

      @prettydarkhorse: Thank you for stopping by as always! I am glad you liked the article. There are so many amazing facts about Babe Ruth that this is more of a condensed bio. Posting all of his incredible baseball feats could be another huge hub all together. So much so that his legend almost transcends baseball.

      @ wavegirl: Thank you for stopping by also! You've got it right. Babe Ruth began his career for the Red Sox where he started off as a pitcher and then started to transition into the outfield and some first base. As a New Yorker, I'm sure you I'm sure you constantly heard about "the curse" of the Red Sox all the way up until 2004. "The curse" is derived from the Red Sox refusal to pay Babe Ruth the money he wanted and their subsequent sale of him to the Yankees. That "sale" essentially ended the Red Sox prominence for 84 years (86 between World Series) and began the Yankee domination that has carried on ever since Ruth first put on the pin stripes.

    • wavegirl22 profile image

      Shari 

      8 years ago from New York, NY

      I never realized the Babe started for the Red Sox! Great Bio on the best baseball players of all time. After watching the Yanks win last night you just knew he was hanging out in left field with George . . making sure of course the Yanks bring another championship home :)

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 

      8 years ago from US

      He is a legend indeed, and you did a good story complete with facts here!

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